I’m practicing what I preach to clients, and am adopting one of the five objectives we call “Embracing” which is when brands use social technologies to collaborate with their customers to create new products. In this case, the product is my blog, and the customers are you, my community.
I’m undergoing a blog redesign, and after deciding on designers (read the process) I’m working with Mitch from studionashvegas. We’ve done several comps on my redesigned logo, which is now finalized, but am looking for feedback from YOU, my readers on the blog redesign.
I study community, and this blog needs to serve your needs as well as mine. I know who my audience is from real research (see stats), it’s primarily interactive marketers at agencies, corporate, and consultants. Since I’ve outgrown this current design, see the overflowed right nav, it’s time to clean up the layout, make it easier to find information and highlight what I think is important.
Although we’ve taken a few comps to get to this point, here’s the latest version we’re willing to share. Since you’re going to be looking at this design as a community member, I want your feedback, and am watching for patterns in suggestions, or what you like.
Click image to see large version
We’re also having the same discussion on Friendfeed. Here’s to making a great blog to suit our needs as a community, love to hear your opinion, please leave a comment below.
I’ve had this blog redesign for a few years now, and it may start to show its cracks. For some, they like the simple layout and design, easy to scroll, for others, they may want a more updated look and feel.
I’ve noticed quite a few blogs have been changing their designs lately, they are more media centric, have more of a front page newspaper look, esp for high volume blogs. Who’s done it? Techcrunch, Scoble, Teresa Valdez Klein, Shel Israel, I think I first noticed this a few months ago from Ars Technica. In fact last night I was evaluating quite a few premium wordpress themes that are available for purchase.
Curt Monash of Network World reviewed a few blogs, and gave me some feedback when I asked how I can improve, (read comments) then extended it to his own personal blog with practical recommendations. He gives me and other bloggers some food for thought on effective blog design for 2008.
I believe in full feedback loop (part of the reason I ask so many questions), and in fact have done surveys’ before to find out what folks want (I now know the majority of my readers are interactive marketers). I keep in mind that I write for a business audience, often a corporate, that’s making decisions about how to use web tools.
Perhaps one of the most important thing about user experience is to remember the users, so I’d like to turn it over to you:
Do you think I need a redesign?
If so, what should change?
Any examples of blogs that you like?
I’m here in SF at the F8 developer conference sponsored by Facebook. While the primary thrust of F8 Facebook announcements was for developers, I mentally translate what this means for web strategists at brands at Fortune 5000s.
One key announcement is Facebook Connect which allows for authentication on 3rd party websites. Then users can visit third party sites, login with their Facebook ID, connect with their friends and update their Facebook newspage –all without visiting Facebook.com
[Facebook Connect will allow corporate websites to allow users to authenticate, interact, and share with their Facebook network –all without leaving the corporate website]
Essentially, the Facebook experience extends further into the web –beyond their walled garden.
Facebook Connect allows users to authenticate using their Facebook ID
Similair to OpenId (which coincidently was adopted by competitor MySpace) third party developers can allow website visitors to login to their website using their Facebook ID. This “Passport” system (much like what Microsoft tried to do) will let members leave comments on third party sites –as well as identify their friends on these sites.
Facebook Connect Will Allow third party sites to update Facebook Newspage
Facebook Connect allows applications, devices, websites to allow third party sites to embed a small piece of code on your site. Then, as users come to your site, (assuming they are Facebook users) could login to Facebook from your site and choose to share activities that would be shared on their newsfeed on Facebook.
Example via Techcrunch: “Mike Philips from Citysearch is taking the stage. He says they are launching a new site, where sharing information is a big piece. They are integrating with Facebook Connect. When a user looks for a hotel, restaurant, etc., Citysearch already has lots of reviews and data, but not a way to link up reviews from friends.”
[Boring, static corporate websites can now become social]
Recommendations for Brands
Interestingly, I talked to some Facebook employees, and they weren’t even looking as far as I was, (which means I’m doing my job well) so this prediction is something to still watch.
Brands should watch how this impacts the few launch partners first, let them sort out the bugs, and put this on the roadmap. Brands that have websites that have social actions (such as buying a product, rating, ranking, or leaving comments) should keep this in mind, as they can now extend the actions to Facebook streams.
Brands that are already trying to reach the Facebook audience (white collar workers and college students) should plan on experimenting with Facebook Connect as it can bring additional social functionality to corporate websites. First, start with use behavior: Use this interactive chart, the behavior is a cross between “Joining” (a social network) and “critic” (commenting, voting, rating) content. In this case, joining is a prerequisite for being a critic, so the actual participation level will be less.
Your logins could become less relevant if Facebook adoption continues to take off in particular markets, for example, brands that are already trying to reach this segment should be ready to adopt Facebook Connect. I ran this Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO Living Social, who agreed this is a big change.
Update: After talking to others, like Dave McClure, it quickly was realized that this is just one more in a trend: OpenID now on MySpace, Google Friend Connect, LinkedIn’s ties with Businessweek and NYT are all examples of our social graphs (relationships) leaving the social network and spreading to third party sites.
Also, White label social network vendors (community platforms) should be thinking about how to integrate all of the above.
Damn, I may have put my foot in my mouth again…
Wow, I should have saw this coming, in a recent comment by Margie (BTW, I read every comment, regardless of what post it’s put on) is offended, well downright mad at my post on the impacts of Gen Y and Boomers.
Here’s Margy’s comment in its entirety, she raises some valid points, and they deserved to be brought up, here’s the comment she just left:
“Your blog entry is days old, so you probably won’t see my post here, but it’s taken me days to calm down from your post to sputter anything back. (Jerimiah, you made me mad!) I’m a Boomer but in no way ready (or financially able) to exit any stage. When did Boomer (hate that term, btw) become a pseudonym for old fogey anyway? Here’s how Boomers described ourselves to each other in an iconic (for the time) book-cum-manifesto, “The Apartment Book,” dated 1979. Sounds a little bit like the optimistic twenty-something rhetoric of 2008. “Through most of the seventies [we] struggled to invent and interpret a way of life that did not follow the old patterns. For the first time, because of the radical changes of the sixties, young people were not automatically following their parents’ paths to marriage, children and a house in the suburbs. Rather, they were searching, alone or in paris or in groups for a place to live that would express their own values. The community of young people who were, by God, going to live their own brand of life — even if they weren’t so sure what it was yet. Because we come from various persuasions and backgrounds, we approach our subject matter with new eyes. The only discipline is a shared commitment to making real ideas happen, without …hype or the tyranny of status names.”
I still believe that. And I bet if you went back further and checked on contemporaneous advertising and magazines targeting young college graduates of the early 1950’s post-war generation just entering the workplace, you’d again find that same open-eyed wonder at the opportunities before them.
The ready-for-anything attitude you describe can’t be pigeonholed into tired marketing classifications like Gen X or Gen Y. It doesn’t come and go like actors on a stage or styles in fashion. It’s something that, if we’re lucky, attacks us early and stays with us throughout our lives.”
First of all, I’m sorry for offending you, I sincerely mean that, that was never my intent.
Secondly, the post is based off data, and my duties in my day job, as it’s an accurate observation of what is, and what will happen. In fact, I’m working on a Forrester report looking at how boomers use social media (coming in the next few weeks) so this is top of mind.
As an analyst, it’s my job to categorize, segment, and describe trends, and for what it’s worth we didn’t create the “boomers” classification.
Regardless, Forrester classifies the Boomer generations in two segments, Younger Boomers (42-51) Older Boomers (52-62). My previous post was obviously referring to the older boomers, and I’ll suspect that you Margy are of the younger group.
These aren’t pigeon holes, and nor are they intended to de-personalize the individual. They are useful for those who make decisions to see the big picture, make sense of it, and do the right thing.
The fact of the matter is that some older boomers have already started to retire (congrats!) I’ve former colleagues who retired as early as 60.
So to clear up any misconceptions, in my original post, I should have indicated I was mainly focusing on older boomers, those that are getting nearer to retirement within just a few years.
This post is intended to be an explanation and an apology, I’m concerned it could potentially infuriate others further. I’ll forgo that risk and make a public apology.
Humbly, Margie, (and anyone else) I seek your forgiveness and understanding as I continue to explore these generational issues as it ties to web strategy.
Earlier this week, I published my findings from the survey to find out who reads the web strategy blog (part 1/3). Now that we have a good sense of who’s in the community, let’s see how you use me. By the way, I’m extremely happy that you use me, as I’m publishing these thoughts and content so you trust me, expand my platform, you’ll grow with me, and eventually work with me.
Here are the findings of how people use this blog, see the finding, my thoughts, and the associated data. Please note this data was compiled by an official Forrester survey, over 88 responses.
A bit of humility…
These findings are overall positive, and I’m gracious and thankful for you being part of this community. I make a lot of mistakes (and consider myself an average, rookie analyst) but am glad to share my passion with you. Regardless of these marks, I’ll still strive to learn, improve my weaknesses, and help others. Thank you!
Finding: Readers would recommend this blog to others
To me, this is the strongest metrics of the entire survey, this net ratings score indicates that you’d be willing to share this blog with others –the highest commendation possible.
“Would you recommend this blog to a friend or colleague?”
Finding: Many posts read
Many readers are digging into every post that is published, and that’s great. Based upon the Google Analytics time on site (attention data) it’s clear that most skim, but some meaty posts have up to 5 minutes attention rate, suggesting true in depth reading. I’m constantly in a state of learning from the commenters, you help me (and the community) to get smarter.
“How frequently do you read Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?”
Finding: Most have been reading since the last half year
This is interesting, while many new readers came around since I joined Forrester, there’s still quite a few older readers that have been with me since Hitachi. Forrester has been a tremendous platform, I’ve doubled my readership since I started.
“For how long have you been reading Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?”
Finding: Most somewhat agree this blog helps to inform the actions I take at work
“This blog helps inform the actions I take at work”
This is a powerful metric, and it’s skewing towards the right bar graphs, which indicates that this blog influences workplace behavior. To what degree? that’s debatable, as it could likely be ‘what not to do’, heh.
Finding: Most strongly agree this blog helps to gain industry-specific insights
Similar to the finding above, this suggests that the community is heavily learning on where this blog suggests the market is headed. I’m in the blessed perched position where I can talk to many vendors and clients, and you’re seeing just some of the output on this blog.
“This blog helps me gain industry-specific insights”
Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps to keep up on cutting edge marketing tech
“This blog keeps me up to date on cutting edge marketing technologies”
Finding: Many strongly agree that this blog is a cheap way to get analyst info
Not sure if this is good or bad, but I can assure you, you’re only seeing a small percentage of the insight that I give to clients in the form of reports, advisory, inquiry, and in person meetings. Also, blog posts are clearly no where near the accuracy nor specific insight and recommendations that you can get from reports.
“This blog is a less expensive source of Forrester information than becoming a client”
Finding: You come here to learn dammit, no f*cking fun allowed
Apparently, I’m no fun. Heh, well that’s ok, this blog is intended for business people, read the tag line on my banner, this is my mission. Although it skews slight to the right, as a somewhat, the goal of this blog is to educate, not entertain.
“[Does]This blog provides me with entertainment?”
Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps with marketing program performance
I don’t discuss marketing mixes, nor do I discuss pricing, but I do discuss measurement, being effective and efficient so no surprises here.
“This blog helps me improve marketing program performance”
Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps to develop effective marketing strategies
I’m somewhat scared that marketers would rely on my blog alone to develop marketing strategies, so I certainly hope this is a supplement. Some of the content here is editorial, and you should recognize what is a best practice and what is not.
“This blog helps me to develop effective marketing strategies”
Finding: This blog doesn’t impact finding technology vendors
Yup, no surprise here, I often list out indexes of industries, but I don’t make specific recommendations, that’s reserved for Forrester clients.
“This blog helps me find technology and/or services partners”
Finding: This blog doesn’t impact building teams or skills
No surprised here, either. I don’t discuss team building, or what the right skills are (except for the emerging social media strategist and community manager), no worries.
“This blog helps me build the right teams and skills”
Thanks again for reading, and keep on using me!
Twitter has been down quite a bit, in fact, according to royal pingdom, they’re the social network that has been down the most over Q1, 2008. Most suggest it’s due to the lack of ability to scale, and as more and more users come, and more and more friend connections come, you can see how infinity complex the site becomes as people (like me) pump out thousands of messages to thousands of users. If the volume of messages on twitter were graphed, it would be a quickly accelerating curve, getting steeper and steeper.
With that said, web users (like myself) are fickle, we find the lowest barriers to communicate, go there, and tell others. In fact, I’ve noticed many conversations shifting over to Friendfeed, as I pointed out in my last post.
Twitter has been good to me, and to you, it’s a communication platform like none other, where news (good and bad) breaks before anywhere else (LA fires, bombs in Times Square, China Earthquake, Arrested in Egypt, etc), it is perhaps the fastest communication network we’ve ever seen (esp as mobile devices are now ubiquitous), there are no editors to create filters, no barriers, (other than downtime). Of course, it has it’s downtime too, for example the 140 characters limited my ability to communicate an upcoming research project, and it was mis-interpreted
On the other hand, many argue that customers ‘owe’ Twitter nothing, and this is what to expect from a free service. Let the market decide –capitalism at it’s finest. In many ways they are right, and ultimately the market will decide, we vote with our clicks.
Despite our frustrations, a few months ago, I signed the customer company pact (186 others did too), it’s an agreement, designed to the age of social computing and the voice of the customer to prevail. It asks us to be patient, understanding, and to show the company the same respect that you’d want to show you. As you know Twitter themselves last night put up a graph of their downtime, and are demonstrating some openness.
I realize that we’re getting close to a breaking point, with Groundswells (where users take over) calling for Twit-outs, and if the downtime persists, Twitter is going to lose members –starting with the influencers who will drag their communities.
So before you pack your bags, leave that “Dear John” letter, make sure you’ve spent all your ‘patience points’ before walking out that door.